We often visit State College, PA (Town of Knowledge and Penn State Football) to visit my wife's parents and her sister Judy who is an excellent home cook and someone you will see me write about often.
On a visit a couple of months ago Judy told me about her neighbor's son who was just starting his own Italian import business and was having an open house for friends and family next door that weekend. Of course I wanted to go over and see what was available. I found lots of my favorite Italian treats including imported Gnocchi with potato and pumpkin.
What are Gnocchi?
The word gnocchi is Italian for dumplings and they are sort of like a cross between a dumpling and pasta. The gnocchi I purchased were 70% mashed potatoes, wheat flour, pumpkin, seasonings and a preservative.
They are shaped like little balls or tiny loaves of bread, are solid and make an excellent side dish or main dish when served with a hearty sauce. You can make your own homemade gnocchi but it is a time consuming process.
Just like making your own homemade pasta, the results are fantastic but who has the time during the week. I would like to try and make a bunch of gnocchi with my kids one weekend. We could make up a lot of them, have some for dinner and freeze the rest.
I prefer to find a really good quality commercial brand like the ones I purchased in State College and you can probably find in your supermarket or Italian specialty store in your area. I will do some research and see if I can find a good source online.
What to Serve With Gnocchi?
What's great about Gnocchi is you can think of them as a substitute for mashed potatoes and serve them with pot roast, braised short ribs, or even ossobucco. On the other hand, you can think of them as pasta and serve them with many of your favorite pasta sauces like I did in this recipe.
What is Pancetta?
Classically, this sauce would be made with Pancetta, Italian bacon that is cured but not smoked. I used regular bacon because that's what I had in my refrigerator. You can find Pancetta in most supermarkets these days, but unless you are making a lot of Italian dishes, you are not going to use it enough to justify buying it when plain old bacon will to the job.
However, if you don't mind the extra expense, go for the Pancetta. You will love the flavor and you can always portion it out, wrap it up tightly and freeze what you don't use.